Artificial Intelligence: The Department of Energy Aims For “AI-Focused Grand Challenges”

June 12, 2020 | Artificial Intelligence, News

The Energy Department has drawn inspiration from the President’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence.

The Department of Energy’s Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office (AITO) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to experts from national laboratories, academia, industry, and others. The RFI asks these organizations for information and insights on how to achieve path-breaking breakthroughs in AI. (Nextgov)

The RFI is titled “AI Technologies that will Drive American AI Leadership.”

However, it is clear that there was a significant impetus from political leadership via the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in AI: “The United States must drive technological breakthroughs in AI across the Federal Government, industry, and academia in order to promote scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security.”


Cheryl Ingstad, director, heads the Department of Energy’s Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office.

The AITO proposed a budget for $5 million for 2021 to advance its mission to accelerate and coordinate the Department’s various AI initiatives.

Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry took the initiative to establish the AITO in September last year.

However, Ingstad took charge in February.

Energy Department: Pushing the AI envelope

Ingstad is an Army veteran with exposure to the Defense Department’s cyber operations.

“In support of the President’s Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence, we are pleased to issue this initial RFI to gather insights from America’s best and brightest minds to push the frontiers of AI development and application,” Ingstad wrote in an email to Nextgov.

Further, “with its near 80-year legacy of innovation, unmatched [research and development] infrastructure, and an unquenchable thirst for accelerating scientific discovery, [Energy] and our 17 national labs are uniquely positioned to advance our shared goal of ensuring America leads the world in this new area of discovery.”


The RFI seeks to advance “novel AI technology breakthroughs to push the frontiers of development” spanning the areas of:

  • Novel methods of learning
  • Development and validation of trustworthy AI
  • Applications for and defenses against adversarial AI
  • Tools to enable better data management and sharing

Moreover, the technical scope of the RFI includes:

  • AI methods
  • Platforms, infrastructure, and ecosystems
  • Autonomous systems and robotics

Finally, “academia, industry, and the US national laboratories may participate to help AITO determine future Grand Challenges and sectored-specific partnerships that will push the boundaries of AI technologies,” the RFI stated.

Related Story:  The Pentagon’s JAIC is Shopping For Tools to Test AI

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